Study: Fiber-Based Packaging Can Be Recycled More Than 25 Times A new university study has dispelled the myth of a limit on the number of recycling loops for fiber-based packaging, saying that paper, board, cartonboard and folding boxes can be recycled more than 25 times with little to no loss of integrity. For the study, the Graz University of Technol- ogy in Austria (TU Graz) repeatedly recycled folding car- tonboard to understand what effect, if any, there would be on the mechanical properties of the material, including its innate strength and crush resistance. “No negative effect on the mechanical properties in question can be demon- strated in this study. The swelling capacity of the fiber also showed no negative trend,” the university reported. According to Winfried Muehling, General Manager of Pro Carton, the European association for carton and car- tonboard manufacturers, the findings draw a line under a common myth that fiber-based packaging can only be recycled four to seven times before it loses integrity. “It highlights that paper and board fibers are much more du- rable than previously considered. In fact, Rene Eckhart, senior scientist at TU Graz, who led the research, believes that the limit on how many times paper, carton and car- tonboard can be recycled is actually dictated more by the stock preparation process and achieved collection and re- cycling quota,” Muehling said in a statement. The current recycling rate for paper and board packag- ing in Europe stands at approximately 84.2 percent, and the European paper industry has set itself a target of a 90 percent recycling rate by 2030. “To keep our circular business model running, we will always need a sound mix of virgin and recovered fiber. Some customers have specific product requirements al- lowing only virgin fiber, for instance those requiring pack- aging intended for direct food contact with moist or greasy food like chocolate. Other examples include luxury pack- aging with special requirements regarding the whiteness or stiffness of the material which will certainly need virgin fibers,” Muehling noted. “For our industry it is crucial to collect, sort and recycle all fiber materials in the market. Virgin and recovered fiber are equally important for the circular economy, which is something many of our brands and retailers are looking to support,” he added. Graz University of Technology (TU Graz) has built up an impressive record of achievements in teaching and research over the last 200 years. The research activities range from high-quality basic research and application-ori- ented research to industrial implementation. Co-operation projects with science and business play an important role. The TU Graz consolidates its competence thematically in the five “fields of expertise” by carrying out top research in important areas for the future from human and biotech- nology to mobility and production or advanced materials science.
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GF PUHL www.gfpuhl.com
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January 31, 2022
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